The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Robinson's sophomore year. "Son of Big Dog," as some called him in af- fectionately referring to his father's nickname, was a much scrawnier, uncertain version of his current self at that point. He had nothing like the chiseled, college-ready body he showed off at the April All-American Classic in New Orleans, where he won MVP honors with 16 points — but he showed flashes. "Late in Tre's sophomore year was when we first started to notice him," Beilein recalled. "We kept seeing steady improvement in many areas. Then that summer we saw him make another jump in his ability and loved the way his game was progressing. "He was still young, but I liked his skill level, athleticism and team-first attitude. As he has added strength, we have seen even more progress and aggressiveness. Tre's work habits are also outstanding. His future is very bright." He also proved to be low mainte- ing he played in that environment. It was a who's who in coaching that day. He's just a kid that's got a poise and a swagger to him that exudes confidence." So much so that Stauskas consid- "It was remarkable how outstand- ers it a slap in the face that someone feels there are 70 better seniors in the country. When the rankings were updated and he hadn't made the move he'd hoped, Stauskas put up homemade YouTube videos in which he put on a shooting display. At one point he made 27 of 32 shots in his backyard from 28 feet — in the dead of winter near his home in Toronto no less. "That's remarkable. Growing up in nance for a kid who blossomed into the talent-rich state of Indiana's top- rated prospect. Beilein and his staff continued to monitor his progress, but they never worried about Rob- inson going back on his September 2010 pledge, even when some of the nation's top programs would inquire. "It was because of the type of young man he was," Beilein said. "It wasn't a babysitting thing. We were watching and trying to envision how we would use him, because he's such a quality student-athlete. We feel we will be able to use his talent in sev- eral ways." Brumm recalled issuing a challenge The 6-6 Staukas was ranked the No. 13 shooting guard in the country as well as the No. 71 player overall in the class of 2012 by PHOTO BY JACEY ZEMBAL to Robinson prior to his senior year. He singled out one of the nation's top preps — a top-10 player at the time — at an AAU event and asked Robinson if he believed he could be every bit as good one day. Robinson responded to the challenge, recently rocketing past him. "Purdue and everybody were say- ing, 'He's soft,' and he was," Brumm said. "He was fortunate when he went to elite camp at Michigan; he really put it on some people. Ev- erybody else doing their evaluation stopped and said he was just soft. They couldn't project. Michigan saw what he could do with the right tu- telage, skill development and being with people motivating you and drawing you a picture." ect is what gives Beilein and his staff a recruiting advantage. While others are throwing out offers to anybody and everybody early in the process, the Michigan staff casts a wider net. Sometimes they'll be among the few coaches at a summer game while dozens of other coaches flood a dif- ferent gym where the supposed five- star targets are on display. As was the case with Robinson, Beilein was among the first to recruit Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark's shooting guard Nik Stauskas (6-6, Ri-'s No. 71 senior nationally). Duke, Kansas and dozens of others were there to watch more heralded big man Kaleb Tarczewski and small forward Alex Murphy, but Beilein had already made it known to Staus- kas that he was their guy. Stauskas pledged to the Wolver- ines on March 27, 2011. "High-level coaches were watch- WAS ALWAYS A PRIORITY To many scouts, that ability to proj- SHOOTING GUARD NIK STAUSKAS ing other players, but it was obvious to me that the one who had special qualities was Nik," Beilein recalled. "I'm sure a lot of people tried to find out who he was after that, but we went there just to see him. that area of the country, right across Lake Ontario from him [in Buffalo, N.Y.], I know it is cold in the winter," Beilein said. "To be able to shoot out there like that on an outdoor basket shows he has some special qualities — a special talent for putting the ball in the basket." That became evident in the sum- mer of his sophomore season, Grass- roots Canada AAU coach Ro Russell recalled. Stauskas was still a skinny kid when he moved him up to play on Russell's 16-and under team, but he didn't back down from the older kids. He dominated them, in fact. At that point, Russell recalled, he adjusted his player's ceiling a few notches higher. "His first game he hit two threes, made a couple good passes and had a couple of good reads on plays," Rus- sell recalled. "By the second quarter he ended up starting … then the next quarter, then the rest of the game and the tournament. "After that tournament I said, 'This kid is going to be a high major player.' His competitiveness, knack for shooting, making big shots — he knows how to play." Russell doesn't only believe Staus- kas can play early at Michigan, he ex- pects it. He calls him one of the three best shooters he's coached among thousands of players. "It's perfect. He couldn't have picked a better school," Russell said. "Coach Beilein gives freedom to shoot. Watching Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, he's a bigger version of them, more ready going to college. He can put it on the floor and step up and make an impact." JUNE/JULY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 21

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